A first-person article supposedly written by a stalking victim and calling on university officials to let her to carry a weapon on protect herself, was in reality penned by a long-time gun advocate.
Last year, an article published by FoxNews.Com under the name of student Taylor Woolrich, hit out at the authorities at Dartmouth College for failing to let her carry a weapon.
“Dear Dartmouth, I am one of your students, I am being stalked, please let me carry a gun to protect myself,” said the headline of article, which subsequently went viral.
But a report by Buzzfeed has revealed that Ms Woolrich’s article was actually written by John Lott, a Virginia-based economist and guns right activist.
“Over the last four years, I have lived with the constant threat from a stalker – a stalker who is now in jail for the third time for violating a restraining order,” the article began.
“Every day I live with these questions: What if today is the day that my stalker posts bail? What if today is the day that he discovers my parents’ new address? What if I go to a lecture on campus and he shows up there?”
The website said Ms Woolrich had met Mr Lott at a guns rights’ event - Students for Concealed Carry - which he organised last summer in Washington and where she had accepted an invitation to speak. The pair also shared a byline in an article about her experiences being stalked that appeared in the Daily Caller.
Yet Ms Woolrich is quoted as saying that a subsequent article that appeared under her name – which Fox News had asked to be in the form of a first-person account – was written by Mr Lott. She said that she had said she did not have time to write an article and that he had offered to do it for her.
"Should myself and other female victims just have to put up with this," said the article.
"The answer, hopefully, is "no." Women must be able to defend themselves. The most effective way of doing this is by using a gun. When police arrive to enforce a restraining order, it is usually too late."
Ms Woolrich told Buzzfeed: “I wanted to talk to the media, if it could mean something positive. But I wanted to talk to the media about stalking. I didn't realise I was being turned into an NRA puppet...I think his first priority was his cause. He saw me as a really great asset.”
Ms Woolrich was not available for comment on Tuesday. The author of the Buzzfeed article, said Ms Woolrich did not wish to make any further comment.
Mr Lott told The Independent that he had written the article that appeared under Ms Woolrich’s name and said he had done so in the role of an editor. He said she had approved a draft of the article and was copied in on correspondence.
He said he had stepped in because Ms Woolrich did not have time to do so. He said he wrote the article using the speech she had delivered at the Washington conference and notes from the article they had written for the Daily Caller.
Mr Lott said Ms Woolrich had been copied in on the email he sent to Fox News.
“She could have complained or commented when it came out,” he said. “She was somebody who wanted help.”
In a statement to Buzzfeed, Fox News said it had “published what was characterised to us as a first person account of Ms. Woolrich’s experiences.” A note at the bootom of the article reads that John Lott, president, Crime Prevention Research Centre contributed to this article.
Ms Woolrich had first made headlines last year after a man in California was arrested for allegedly stalking her over a four year period. Richard Bennett, 68, was detained on charges of violating a restraining order filed by Ms Woolrich. She he spoken out after he was set to be released.Reuse content